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Growing Links Seen Among Southeast Asian Islamists; Southern Thailand Affected

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

SINGAPORE -- Evidence is growing that threads of homespun Islamicextremism in seven countries of Southeast Asia are weaving links amongeach other. Malay Muslim insurgentsfighting an increasingly violent conflict in southern Thailand, forexample, now appear to be receiving assistance from Islamists elsewherein Southeast Asia.

The thread appears to loosely wind through Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Singapore, Cambodia and even tightly controlled Burma.

Mention of terrorism in this region and the international community automatically thinks of the Bali bombings, which killed 202 vacationers in October 2002. But the violence is far worse in southern Thailand, where barely a day has gone by in the last year without several people shot, blown up or even beheaded. This violence is perpetrated in the name of a radicalism that ultimately seeks a separate Islamic state, or at least autonomy, forged from Thailand's southernmost provinces bordering Malaysia. The majority there is ethnic Malay. ...

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